Exercise and Sport Science

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UW-La Crosse has been a state and national leader in preparing physical education teachers for decades. Our graduates, certifiable to teach kindergarten through high school, teach in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Study is broad based, with emphasis on motor skills, fitness, scientific principles, teaching strategies, and program development. 

The UWL program balances traditional, individual and fitness activities with non-traditional physical education activities such as backpacking, ropes courses, and rock climbing. This balance provides students with numerous experiences to enhance their professional development. Because of its exceptional quality, the UW System has identified this program as a Center of Excellence, a designation reserved for high quality undergraduate programs.


Our vision is to be the preeminent national leader in the preparation of physical education teachers in a society where all persons enjoy, regularly participate in, understand the benefits of, and advocate for physical activity for lifelong healthy living.


We strive to achieve our vision by preparing reflective physical education teachers who integrate their content knowledge with an understanding of developmental characteristics in all learning domains to create, organize, manage, improve, and assess learning for diverse groups of students, and to communicate, motivate, and advocate for lifelong physical activity for healthy living.  These globally responsive professionals are leaders in their communities who bridge the gap between theory and evidence-based practice through extensive clinical preparation in partnership schools.  They are personally committed to physical activity in their lifestyles, partake in continuous professional development, and collaboratively plan and implement standards-based physical activity interventions using a variety of pedagogies and technologies that are learner-centered.

Career Opportunities

Numerous career options are available for graduates of the Physical Education Teaching Program. Public and private school teaching and coaching positions are the primary employment options for graduates. Business organizations and the U.S. military also employ physical educators. Our bachelor's degree provides a solid foundation for graduate education and advanced work in physical education and other related fields.


Our placement record has been excellent. Even during periods of oversupply, UWL graduates have experienced success in the job search. Our graduates are highly regarded by school districts and placement has been outstanding throughout the past decade.

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Deb Sazama 

Physical Education Teaching Program Director 
158 Mitchell Hall 
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 
1725 State Street 
La Crosse, WI 54601 


Exercise and Sport Science-Teaching Academic Requirements

-Successful completion leads to Wisconsin DPI 530 teaching license

First and Second  Years—complete both A and B

  1. General Education Requirements (48 credits). Courses must be selected from list applicable to Teaching Certification programs. For a complete listing of General Education classes please see the Undergraduate Catalog or Advisement Report.
  2. 100 and 200 Level Physical Education Requirements (28 credits)


Course #

Course Title



ESS 118

Introduction to the Physical Education Teaching Profession



ESS 121

Teaching Adventure Education in  Physical Education



ESS 205

Human Anatomy & Physiology for Exercise Science I

*BIO100, or MIC100 or BIO 105


ESS 206

Human Anatomy & Physiology for Exercise Science II

*ESS 205


ESS 207

Human Motor Behavior

Physical Educ majors must have ESS 212  


ESS 200

Introduction to Teaching Methods in PE  

ESS 118


ESS 212

Teaching Fundamental Movement Skills in PE

ESS 200 or concurrent enrollment


ESS 231

Introduction to Adapted Physical Education (includes required clinical)

ESS 200 or concurrent enrollment


ESS 261

Teaching Educational Gymnastics in Physical Education

ESS 212


ESS 310

 Teaching Outdoor Pursuits in Physical Education

ESS 121, ESS 200,

      28          Credits

*Not open to students who have credit in BIO 312/313 (Anatomy and Physiology I & II)

Non-Credit Certifications—must hold current certifications during student teaching.

  • Water Safety Instructor—contact the American Red Cross or YMCA for classes or enroll in ESS 116 WSI 
  • First Aid and CPR—contact the American Red Cross for classes or enroll in ESS 201 First Aid, Safety, and CPR
  • American Red Cross or American Heart Association certifications are UW-L PETE program requirements AND MUST INCLUDE A PRACTICAL COMPONENT


Requirements for Application to Physical Education Teacher Education(PETE):

  • Completion of 30 earned, college credits;
  • Passing scores on Basic Skills/Praxis Core test is no longer required
  • Completion of foundation courses with a grade of “C” or better--BIO 100 or MIC 100 or BIO 105, HPR 105, ESS 118, and ESS 200;
  • Teaching Leadership Reflection Paper;
  • Interview with Physical Education Teaching Faculty;
  • A criminal background check;
  • Note: meeting minimum application requirements does not guarantee admission to the Teacher Education Program.

Third Year (21 credits)


PSY 370

Educational Psychology

ESS 207 & ESS 200


ESS 302

Physiology of Exercise

‘C’ or better in ESS 206


ESS 303


‘C’ or better in ESS 205






ESS 363

Teaching Dance in Physical Education

** ESS 212


ESS 364

Teaching Fitness and Wellness in PE

** ESS 302 or concurrent enrollment


ESS 366

Teaching Target, Net and Wall Activities in PE

** ESS 212


ESS 367

Teaching Invasion, Striking and Fielding Activities in PE



Fourth Year (32 credits—including student teaching semester)


Course #

Course Title



ESS 419

Elementary Teaching Methods in PE (Required Clinical)

** ESS 261, ESS 363, ESS 364, ESS 366, ESS 367


ESS 420

Secondary Teaching Methods in PE (Required Clinical)

** ESS 310, ESS 363, ESS 364, ESS 366, ESS 367


ESS 422

Teaching Health-Related Fitness

ESS 302 or concurrent enrollment **


ESS 423

Individual and Social Factors in Physical Education

** Junior Standing


ESS 424

Curriculum Development and Admin. In Physical Education

** Senior Standing, & ***

**           Enrollment requires Admission to Physical Education Teacher Education


  • · Students enroll in ESS 425 and EDS 494/495 concurrently
  • · Prior to entering student teaching Physical Education students must:
  1. Provide official, passing scores for the PRAXIS II Subject Assessment(s)
    1. Physical Education: Content Knowledge
      1. Test Code: 5091
      2. Qualifying score: 150
    2. Health Education
      1. Test Code: 5551
      2. Qualifying score: 151
  2. Complete all academic course work, clinical experiences, and WSI and 1st Aid/CPR certifications
  3. Earn a 2.75 or better grade point averages in the cumulative and in all areas of licensure.


Course #

Course Title



ESS 425

Student Teaching Seminar in Physical Education

taken concurrently with student teaching; completion of all course work required to student teach; successful completion of PRAXIS II exam


EDS 494

Student Teaching

Passing scores on PRAXIS II, **,***, concurrent with ESS 412


EDS 495


**,***, concurrent with ESS 412

**           Enrollment requires Admission to Physical Education Teacher Education
***          ESS 424 should be taken in the semester prior to student teaching.

Students enrolled in Exercise and Sport Science majors must earn a grade of ‘C’ or better in all required ESS courses.

Physical Education Teaching majors are encouraged to consider an additional area of certification. Please contact the following people for more information about majors, minors and concentration offered by UW-La Crosse.

Adapted Physical Education (minor) – successful completion leads to Wisconsin DPI #860 add-on teaching license
   Dr. Garth Tymeson, gtymeson@uwlax.edu, (608) 785-5415, 131 Mitchell Hall

Coaching Competitive Athletics (concentration, does not lead to WI DPI Coaching certification)
    Dr. Teri Hepler, thepler@uwlax.edu (608) 785-8164, 139 Mitchell Hall;

School Health Education (major/minor) – successful completion leads to Wisconsin DPI 910 teaching license
    Dr. Lori Reichel, lreichel@uwlax.edu, (608) 785-6787, 200 Mitchell Hall;

NOTE: Besides the School of Education major/minor or the APE minor, Physical Education Teaching majors generally do not pursue any of the other certifiable majors/minors; because, the added requirements are not compatible with efficient program completion. Please refer questions about this to Ashley Cree, acree@uwlax.edu, (608) 785-8127, 145 Graff Main Hall.


Application deadlines are the first Friday of October, January, February and June (4:00 p.m.)

  1. Submit entire application folder to Dr. Deb Sazama, 158 Mitchell Hall. Leave application folder in Dr. Sazama's mailbox on her office door.
  2. Clearly label and assemble the following items, in the order they are listed, in a standard pocket folder:
    • Current Resume:  Including personal and contact information, (e.g., name, local address, cell phone, UWL email address), major/minor/concentration, and any work related experience and professional involvement
    • Health Related Fitness assessment pretest, individual fitness plan, posttest, follow up reflection, and rubric completed by ESS 118 instructor
    • Leadership Experience Reflection Paper
  3. After review of your application folder (approximately two weeks following submission of application folder), candidates meeting minimum criteria will be contacted via email to arrange the interview portion of the application process.
  4. Admission decisions will be sent to students via email within one month following the application deadline.
  5. The College of SAH Dean's Office will be notified of candidates approved for admission and will formally admit students to the School of Education as ESS - Physical Education Teaching Majors
Admission to the PETE Program is competitive, and not all who apply can be accommodated.  All students meeting the minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission to the program.

Application Requirements

    1. Completion of Foundation Courses - Students must earn a C or better in each course.
      • ESS 118 Introduction to the Physical Education Teaching Profession
      • ESS 200 Introduction to Physical Education Teaching Methodology
      • BIO 100 or 105 or MIC 100
      • HPR 105 Creating a Healthy, Active Lifestyle
    2. Completion of 30 college credits
    3. GPA 
        1. Minimum 2.75 Overall GPA is required to apply for the program and must be maintained throughout the program
    4. Health Related Physical Fitness Assessment and Reflection Paper  
      Students will complete a fitness pretest (flexibility, pacer, push-ups, curl-ups, body mass index, and trunk lift), develop an individual fitness plan to improve or maintain their personal fitness levels over one semester, complete a fitness posttest, and write a reflection indicating their commitment to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle as a role model for future students. This entire process will be completed while enrolled in ESS 118.  The instructor of ESS 118 will administer and assess all components of this part of the admission process. Items to include in the application packet include: Pretest results, individual fitness plan, posttest results, follow up reflection, and completed rubric from the instructor.

Health-related physical fitness testing accommodations are available for individuals with documented disabilities.  Please contact the Program Director if there are any questions concerning accommodations.

  1. Leadership Experience Reflection Paper  
    Students must participate in and reflect upon a leadership experience in a Pre-K-12 environment, (e.g., YMCA, park and recreation, teaching in a summer program/camp, youth sports coaching, leading physical activities classes, after school programs, Boys and Girls Club). The experience must include at least 8 hours of active involvement, and can be paid or volunteer work. Applicants must provide a reflection paper addressing the following four parts:  First, provide a brief description of overall experience (e.g., who, what, where, when, why--you don't have to address all). Second, address at least three areas in which you experienced professional growth during that experience. Third, address areas of needed improvement, based on your experience. Finally, end with a paragraph that ties all parts together. The reflection should be double spaced using 12 point font, 1 inch margins, and be a minimum of 2-pages maximum of 3-pages. 
  2. Interview   
    Once all application materials have been reviewed and approved, students will be contacted by the interview chair who will set up an interview schedule and solicit applicants to sign up for a 15-minute interview.  The interview questions will be sent to applicants. Interviews will be conducted by three faculty members. The purpose of the interview is to evaluate oral communication skills and ability to relate current issues, content knowledge, experiences, and personal qualifications to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become an effective physical education teacher. 
    Completion of Minimum Requirements Does NOT guarantee admission into the PETE Program

Appeal Process

There are two situations that may require a student to submit an appeal.  An appeal to apply is for students who do not meet either the minimum requirements for GPA.

  1. Appeal to apply:   Students may appeal to have their applications considered for admission to the PETE program if they are deficient in one, but not both, of the following:
    • Minimum passing scores for the Praxis Core (Students must pass at least two areas and must demonstrate having taken the failed Praxis Core component a minimum of three times before an appeal will be considered. In addition the student must be able to demonstrate having taken measures to improve that particular score.)
    • Minimum  2.75 GPA
      • For GPAs not below 2.70
      • Must earn and maintain a 2.75 GPA each semester thereafter; not doing so will result in removal from the program

Steps to making an Appeal to Apply

Prepare an appeal packet for the PETE Appeals Committee containing a written statement of appeal, which includes:

    Identification of the requirement being appealed.
    1. Reason(s) why the requirement was not satisfied.
    2. Why the committee should approve a waiver in this case ( e.g., in justification of the request, please submit convincing evidence of academic success, personal circumstances beyond your control, prospects for success as a teacher).
    3. In the case of an appeal involving the Praxis Core exam, students are advised to show that a significant effort has been made to prepare for each testing attempt (e.g., working with an academic skills specialist/counselor).
    4. Two letters of support from faculty/staff or other professionals who can speak to the issue being appealed and the student's prospects for success as a teacher. 
    5. Appeals to Apply are only accepted at the J-term and Summer application dates. Appeals must be submitted to Dr. Amy Tischler, PETE Program Director, 216 Mitchell Hall before 4:00 on the 1st Friday of October, January, February, or June
  1. Students will be notified in writing, via email, of the appeal decision. Please refer any questions to Ashley Cree, Assistant to the Dean,  145 Graff Main Hall, acree@uwlax.edu.
  2. The student may be asked to meet with the PETE faculty as part of the appeal process.  The decision after the appeal is final.  Students are allowed to apply for PETE admission twice during their academic career at UW-La Crosse.

Request a Transcript Evaluation

Prospective students are invited to request an evaluation of their transcripts. This will help to determine if any of your prior course work may be applied to the program's requirements. Candidates with a strong academic background in exercise science/kinesiology, and to some degree teacher education, may see a significant reduction in the number of required credits as listed above. You may request a transcript evaluation by sending legible copies of your transcripts and a brief cover letter outlining your career goals to:

Ashley Cree, Assistant to the Dean 
College of Science and Allied Health 
UW-La Crosse 
1725 State Street 
La Crosse, WI 54604

(608) 785-8127